Does the Tribal Trail Connector Road solve our transportation puzzle?

JACKSON, Wyo. — Some people think the Tribal Trail Connector Road (TTCR) has a place in solving our transportation challenges, and our County Commission could vote on it as soon as this winter. The proposed half-mile of new pavement would connect the end of the existing Tribal Trail Road to Highway 22. It would require an additional intersection on 22 – the main east-west road connecting Jackson to Teton Village, Wilson, Idaho, and all points west. As we all experienced this summer, this highway experiences severe congestion during peak tourist season and drivers often face delays of over thirty minutes.

Addressing our community’s transportation problems is like solving a puzzle – we need to make sure we understand the big picture before placing any pieces. The Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance has reviewed the proposed road and intersection alternatives, and we have questions in three key areas: traffic impacts to Highway 22, financial and environmental costs, and the irreversibility of a completed Tribal Trail Connector.

1. Traffic impacts: The County has an ongoing process to determine what kind of intersection to build; two of the alternatives include signalized intersections. Do we want another intersection like Spring Gulch backing up traffic and adding to the delay we all experience? The County’s traffic model shows the construction of TTCR would add over 1,000 vehicles per day to Highway 22, even assuming minimal use of the new road as a bypass for vehicles traveling to and from Rafter J, Melody Ranch, and anywhere south of town. Why would we take a first step to address our congestion problem that adds traffic and delay to 22?

2. Costs: The preliminary estimates for the construction cost of this road range anywhere from $5M to $14M, with those costs likely to increase as the County and WYDOT finalize the design and factor in rising costs of construction. The County will incur costs to complete the required environmental analyses and to negotiate with landowners outside of the existing right-of-way. We know that solving our transportation puzzle will take significant funding resources; shouldn’t we save our money until we know what the most effective solutions will be?

3. Irreversibility: If we get this decision wrong, there’s no going back. We’ll have worsened traffic on Highway 22, spent millions of taxpayer dollars, impacted high-quality wetlands, and we won’t get a do-over. Doesn’t it make sense to proceed slowly, and get the big picture clear before we make any major capital improvements decisions?

The county will host a public workshop about the proposed road this fall, leading up to a County Commission vote as soon as December. Learn about the proposal, analyze the cost/benefit equation for yourself, and share your thoughts with your friends, neighbors, and the County Commission.

Learn more at jhalliance.org/tribaltrail or contact our Transportation Program Director Daniel Smith at daniel@jhalliance.org.

 

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